Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Book Review Club (October 2013)

Welcome to our October Book Review Club! October--the eighth month in the Roman calendar and the tenth month in the Julian Gregorian calendars. Apparently, October is the national month for chili, cookies, dessert, pizza and seafood. I list these in alpha order so as not to show preference. October is also a month where we're bringing you some wonderful, thoughtful, insightful, let-me-rush-out-and-get-this-book reviews. Enjoy!

You remember KELLY HAYES, one of my Denny's Chicks critique partners? Because she's so very good and kind, Kelly offered to review a book for us this month. She could see I was in over my head with kids' activities along with starting a new book. And you're in luck; Kelly writes a mean review.


CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER is a novel for anyone who likes a good high seas adventure as well as those who enjoy reading about food and cooking. It’s also for people who want a fun and entertaining read. And I’m willing to bet there are a lot of us out there.

The year is 1819 and Mad Hannah Mabbot, a notorious female pirate, on a mission of bloody vengeance, comes across her target’s personal chef and takes him captive. On board Captain Mabbot’s ship, the Flying Rose, Chef Owen Wedgwood is told that he will cook for his captor every Sunday and in return he will be allowed to live. Needless to say, he accepts the job.

Wedgwood, or “Wedge” as he is soon dubbed, is pious and prudish and horrified by the wild, red-haired captain and her barbaric, oddball crew. He gets to work performing magic with the ship’s limited rations supplemented with any exotic foodstuff he can get his hands on. After all, his life depends on impressing Captain Mabbot’s palate and satisfying her prodigious appetite. She orders him to eat these meals with her and a hesitant friendship blooms.

But that doesn’t stop Wedgewood from planning several escape attempts, all foiled of course. This is where the wry humor comes in, an element which I thoroughly enjoyed. Wedge’s voice is an amusing blend of sheltered ignorance and artistic sensibility, full of florid English pretension that gets knocked down a peg or two by the deaf cabin boy he takes under his wing. Wedge’s stuffiness makes a great contrast to Mabbot’s forthright humor and swagger. You could say their roles are reversed, and to brilliant comic effect.

There’s a fair bit of history regarding the tea and opium trades of the time and a lot of nautical as well as culinary terminology. Being a foodie myself, I took great pleasure in the latter, while merely tolerating the former. But all the rich detail creates a vivid background while it tempers the swashbuckling action.

Being written by a man, you might think the romance element would be cursory at best. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t detract from the poignancy and depth of the relationship between the two main characters. And it definitely increases the accessibility of the tale. CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER is a well-written, exuberant novel that readers of both sexes and many different ages will enjoy.  
Below are links to the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You'll be glad you did! And, thank you, Kelly.


Sarah Laurence: FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell (YA)
                           ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell (YA)

Stacy Nyikos: ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card (YA, science fiction)


Beth Yarnall: THE OPPORTUNIST by Tarryn Fisher (new adult romance)


Patti Abbott: BREWSTER by Mark Slouka

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: THE TWELVE by William Gladstone (suspense thriller)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE CUCKOO'S CALLING by Robert Galbraith AKA JK Rowling

Linda McLaughlin: THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS by Katherine Howe (historical)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. Barrie, thanks for hosting!

    Kelly, thanks for stepping in for Barrie. It was interesting to see gender roles reversed in this book. I wouldn't necessarily assume that men couldn't write romance. What about Brideshead Revisited, Anna Karenina and The English Patient?

  2. Yes, Barrie, thanks for hosting us every month.

    Kelly, Cinnamon and Gunpowder sounds like very creative storytelling. Glad you enjoyed the food and the humor.

  3. Sounds really fun and original.


Comments are always welcome!